About a week ago I downloaded Mastodon to start exploring alternatives to Twitter if it came to that. It took a couple of days to get the hang of how to locate people and subjects I was interested in, but since then I have had a great time meeting new people with common interests. And they’re nice. And kind.
When I started I had no intention of stopping using my Twitter account, but the last week changed that. I have followed directions from the New York Times to lock down and archive my Twitter account, and while I will keep it open, and check in regularly, I no longer post in it. The need for it just evaporated as the risk and the up side of staying on it increased in recent weeks, and benefits of it went away.
The people I’ve started following on Mastodon have helped me come to this decision. Matt Tait has a better explanation than I do here on his PwnAllTheThings blog, and @anildash put a fine point on it when he referred to “that weird mix of performativity and anticipatory defensiveness” that characterized what many of us did on Twitter. And he’s absolutely right. For me Twitter was always the middle ground between the personal on Facebook professional on LinkedIn, and I always found myself trying to present a certain image, keeping in mind that an attack on whatever I posted might be right around the corner.
I told @anildash that I thought social media was a balance between building a brand/marketing and engaging with people with similar interests for the sheer enjoyment of it. Mastodon puts substantial roadblocks in the way for the former, for the reason that it protects the latter, and I have decided that I am really enjoying the latter. People who are on Mastodon have made the conscious decision to participate in a site that values courtesy, kindness, and an appreciation for the people who are on the opposite end of the online connection after having had experience with the negativity that can come from other sites.
You Are The Algorithm
And the emphasis on use of hashtags means that I can find people with similar interests pretty easily, and I’ve already started curating my follows to tailor my feed to what I’m interested in. As Masto friends constantly say – there is no algorithm for what you’re seeing – you are the algorithm. So, for example, this morning I removed following #Archaeology posts because they were putting too much into my feeds. But I’ll still get posts about archaeology from my follows. And I tend to follow people who have archaeology as an interest. I may eventually do the same for #StarTrek as the size of my feed increases. #ScaleModeling on the other hand – I will probably always follow the hashtag because there are not nearly the posts out there.
I will miss many of the brilliant people I interacted with on Twitter – but I expect to see them again soon on one platform or another.
So while Mastodon will still for me be a similar mix of personal and professional interests like Twitter was, I will be dialing down some of the professional activity I had on Twitter, and focusing that more on my LinkedIn profile. Right now Mastodon is just enjoying people with similar interests, sharing what I am doing and reading about what they are doing. I’ll try not to bore them with legal posts. But I don’t care if they’re bored with my scale modeling posts – I gotta be me.